The future of the book is a topic that has been written about off and on for more than 15 years, since the first e-reader graced our paths and publishers and writers alike worried that one day these electronic formats of books would make those paper copies obsolete. People worry that books will become like vinyl records, tapes, and eventually CDs, all of which have virtually disappeared off the face of the earth since the development of the MP3 player and furthermore smart phones that also play music.
However, something that is important for us to remember is that books are not music. Books are, and always will be, physical things that we hold with our hands. Yes, the way that we read books is evolving, and many people now opt for audio books as a convenient way to “read” books when they might not otherwise have time to. However, the act of reading a book is not something that is likely to change with such an effect that the actual physical product could become obsolete.
Books are on e-readers, books are made of paper (yes, really!), books are available on tablets, smart phones, laptops, iPods, you name it, but still the majority of books are still read in print. An interest statistic recently mentioned by Lincoln Michel on Buzzfeed is that seven years after the iPod was released, the mp3 market had killed the CD market, but 15 years after the first e-readers was released, physical printed books are still more popular than any other format. In fact, eBooks take up only 15-20% of the book market in total.
The future of books, as we have been speculating for so long, is more books. Books will remain, books will be read, books will be printed, they will be typed, they will be available in many different formats, but they will still be books. Just because the traditional publishers will become known as “dinosaurs”, does not mean that they, too, will become extinct. Self-publishers, e-publishers ad traditional publishers alike will continue to share the industry, as the book market is still as popular as it has ever been. Let’s face it, nobody really wants to stop reading books. Sure, we may no longer have as much time for reading as we once did, but, in my opinion at least, there is nothing better than curling up on a comfortable sofa or chair with a good book and a good glass of wine.
Besides, who was it that pondered; “I wonder if there is a Netflix for books?” and was met with “A library?” – Or Kindle Unlimited – whichever you prefer!